Published Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Updated Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019 | 6:18 p.m.
UNLV needed a convincing win over San Jose State on Saturday, and that's exactly what the Rebels got.
Four Rebels scored in double figures as UNLV obliterated SJSU, 94-56. Joel Ntambwe led the way with 16 points, while Noah Robotham posted 13 points and eight assists.
It was a hot shooting performance for UNLV, as the team connected on 15-of-31 from 3-point range. Five different players made more than one from long range.
San Jose State was unable to keep up with that pace, as the Spartans made just 23-of-66 from the field (34.8 percent).
The win improves UNLV to 4-1 in Mountain West play and 10-7 overall. The Rebels will host New Mexico on Tuesday.
UNLV pounding San Jose State, 77-47
UNLV continues to pound San Jose State into submission, and with 7:21 remaining, the Rebels lead, 77-47.
The hot-shooting Rebels have made 15-of-30 from 3-point range, with five different players making more than one. Joel Ntambwe has made three from deep in the second half and now leads UNLV with 14 points.
UNLV leads San Jose State at half, 46-25
Seven different Rebels have hit a 3-pointer, and UNLV has a very comfortable 46-25 lead over San Jose State at the half.
This has been a blowout from the opening minute, as San Jose State does not appear to understand the basic concepts of defense. UNLV has taken advantage of that by driving, dishing, and swishing open 3's. As a team, the Rebels have made 9-of-18 from deep.
Noah Robotham and Kris Clyburn are leading the way with eight points apiece, and Robotham also has a team-high five assists. Freshman Bryce Hamilton has provided a few highlights as well, scoring seven points on 3-of-7 shooting.
San Jose State made just 11-of-35 from the field in the first half, including a 1-of-7 showing from 3-point range.
As long as the Rebels continue to play with effort over the next 20 minutes, they'll put this one in the win column.
Rebels blowing out San Jose State
Give UNLV credit for taking care of business.
After sleepwalking through their blowout loss at Air Force three days ago, the Rebels came out focused today and have buried San Jose State. With 7:40 left in the first half, UNLV already has a 31-9 lead.
Amauri Hardy just picked up two flashy assists, first throwing an over-the-shoulder pass to Nick Blair for a corner 3, then throwing a lead-ahead pass to Bryce Hamilton for a fast-break layup. Hardy has five points and three assists.
San Jose State has been as bad as advertised, as the Spartans are shooting 4-of-21 from the field with seven turnovers.
UNLV takes early lead over San Jose State
It's only been four minutes, but UNLV has already showed more intensity today than they did on Wednesday at Air Force. With 15:36 left in the first half, the Rebels have a modest, 10-4 lead over San Jose State.
Noah Robotham and Amauri Hardy have both hit early 3-pointers, and the Rebels have held up well defensively — something they did not do in the blowout loss at Air Force.
Can UNLV keep up its intensity on the defensive end for the rest of the game? That's the question.
Previewing UNLV basketball vs. San Jose State with reader questions
UNLV took a beating on Wednesday at Air Force, but the Rebels will be right back at it on Saturday when San Jose State comes to town (4:30 p.m., AT&T SportsNet).
What does Marvin Menzies have to do in order to get his team back on track? Let's preview the game by taking some reader questions:
Talk about when the Rebels will get their bigs back on the court.
Probably not anytime soon. Sophomore center Mbacke Diong is a game-time decision against San Jose State, but considering the way he looked during warmups against Air Force on Wednesday — Diong was mostly stationary — it doesn't seem like he'll be recovered in time for the SJSU game.
After San Jose State, there are only two days off before the next contest (a home date with New Mexico). But then the Rebels have three days off before traveling to San Diego State on Jan. 26. If I had to guess — and this is purely a guess — I'd look at the SDSU game as a possible return for Diong.
Have issue with Marvin Menzies “tweaking” defense. Why weren't coaches able to prepare team for defensive change? And, it’s Air Force, why can’t Rebs play their style?
UNLV is not talented enough or good enough to walk onto the floor against any Mountain West team and say, "This is our style, we're not changing, we're going to beat you and there's nothing you can do about it." Menzies is going to have to do some coaching in these games in order to keep the Rebels competitive. So against Air Force, once he knew Diong was out, Menzies went to a defensive game plan that relied more on switching on the perimeter. It obviously didn't work, as Air Force drove to the basket with ease all night, but Menzies had to do something once his lone rim protector was deemed unavailable.
Thoughts on why he doesn’t play Hamilton more?
Bryce Hamilton was a prized 4-star recruit, but he has not made a big impact as a freshman. In fact, he's averaging just 15.3 minutes over the last four games. His offensive numbers have been pretty solid during that stretch, as he's 7-of-15 from the field (3-of-9 from 3-point range) with just one turnover, so the issue must be on the defensive end. That would be understandable for a freshman, but...
Let's just say that in the bigger picture, it's not a good sign for Hamilton that Menzies is playing walk-ons Marvin Coleman and Nick Blair ahead of him at times. That goes for little-used freshman Trey Woodbury as well.
Talk about how we have modified our lineup due to injuries to our big men and whether or not there are more advantages to playing smaller
There are some obvious advantages, mostly on the offensive end. UNLV has been pretty good at scoring the ball since Menzies went smaller, but as we saw against Air Force, the defense suffers greatly when there is no true rim protector stationed near the basket.
With Shakur Juiston and Cheickna Dembele out for the season, help is not on the way. The Rebels will just have to weather the storm until Diong comes back, then hope he and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua can anchor the defense effectively enough to make small-ball work.
Talk about how the admin can regain the fans’ trust when making decisions about UNLV basketball.
It's going to take a while. The administration — not this particular administration, but the admin in general — made a string of decisions that all seemed to turn out badly, one after the other, and it has left a large portion of the fan base feeling scorned. The first domino was Dave Rice's mid-season firing. That struck a lot of people as a cruel thing to do, even if it was time for a coaching change. Doing it during the season threw the program into a state of chaos. Then a lot of fans didn't like the way assistant Stacey Augmon was passed over for interim duties in favor of Todd Simon. Then, if the whole Chris Beard fiasco taught the fans anything, it was "Don't get excited about anything, because the rug can be yanked out in an instant."
But I don't need to list all the decisions that led UNLV basketball to this point. What matters is, after so many bad moves, it's going to take more than one good one to bring the fans back. A program built around exciting, talented players and a string of consistent winning seasons is probably the only thing that can bring the fans back in full force. Make the NCAA tournament a couple times, don't burn the fans with any more disasters or scandals, and hope the Raiders aren't good right away. That's the formula.
Tony Sanchez is hitting the juco market hard this year after years of focusing on chasing and developing freshmen and not even filling all his available scholarships. Do you think it will pay off or is it too little, too late?
I think it will pay off. The offense should be excellent next year, assuming good health for quarterback Armani Rogers. The weakest areas of the defense have been fortified with intriguing, experienced players. If those guys can help secure a couple more stops per game, the offense will take care of the rest and that should make the difference between 5-7 and 7-5. I have that much faith in Rogers' development.